72 years ago today, March 23rd 1951, Operation Tomahawk began. It would be the second and last airborne operation of the Korean War. A joint operation with Operation Courageous the overall goal was to trap large numbers of the Chinese PVA and North Korean KPA between the Han and Imjin Rivers by landing near Munsan-Ni. The 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team would act as a blocking force to meet up with the 24th and 3rd Divisions.

To beef up the 187th the 2nd and 4th Ranger companies were added to the 2nd and 3rd Battalions respectively. Apparently during the jump the 187th jumped from C119’s while the Rangers from C46s and C47s. 3rd Battalion with the 4th Rangers attached would be the first on the drop zone followed by the 2nd. The drop went mostly well except for some confusion with the drop zones as the lead plane of the second serial had to turn back due to engine problems and the second group ended up dropping their troops in the the same drop zone as the first.

(Original Caption) South Korea: On Their Way. Paratroopers of the 187th Regimental Combat team, like these shown boarding a C-119 Flying Boxcar, were dropped just south of the 38th parallel early March 23 in an effort to cut off the retreat of the 15,000 man Red Korean First Corps north of Seoul. Supported by airborne Rangers, they bailed out of C-119 and C-46 transports in the Imjin River area. First enemy resistance was slight.

While forming up in the drop zones the regiment began receiving mortar fire from the nearby hill tops. The various battalions and companies went about clearing the tops of enemy with the 4th Rangers finding particularly stiff resistance on Hill 205. Over the next few days the units would link up with the tanks of Task Force Growden and push north to the Imjin River.

Overall enemy resistance was relatively light and the regiment managed to only lose 4 men. It turned out that the majority of the communist forces had already pulled back before the operation even began. The Korean War would soon settle down in the somewhat static positions of a stalemate and the opportunity for penetration operations like these would be over.

Unfortunately as with most things Korea there is little about it online so you sort of have to read a few sources. Even though the ARSOF article is actually about the 2nd rangers and not the 187th Airborne it probably give the most flavor to the battle and the other more official sourced are very short and lacking details.

Wikipedia, pretty light on details
Mostly about the 2nd Ranger Company but has a lot of details in there
Official Army publication, definitely the meatiest
Ronald Speirs or “Band of Brothers” fame was there as well, although I think he let the prisoners live this time.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s